Every Real Estate Professional Should Have a Toll-Free Number!
by Rob McQuade, ABR, Sacramento REALTOR®
Sacramento CA Real Estate
It's easy to justify using a plain ol' local number--maybe even just your cell phone number--when marketing yourself on business cards and in advertising. Heck, most people seem to use email as a major communication tool anyway, right? And, well, just about everyone using a cell phone can make long distance calls at no extra cost...
I agree, for most day-to-day marketing a local number is fine. Having said that, here's why I recommend that every real estate professional have their own toll-free number:
1. You look like a business. You are a business, right? I mean, you conduct business and you have clients and customers. It's a level of professionalism that can set you apart from others.
2. It will help your customers reach you. Yes, there really are people out there who don't have cell phones or email. Or, at least, who don't have super-cheap or free long distance.
3. You can capture caller information. Most toll-free services allow you to capture a caller's information even if they have their number blocked. While I don't recommend stalking a caller who doesn't want you to contact them, sometimes a person can leave a garbled message and this is a fail-safe that makes it easier to follow up with them.
4. What happens if you leave your current brokerage? If you've been advertising your firm's toll free number or other numbers, some people won't have your new contact info if you change firms. I recommend everyone publish contact info they have control over--with the broker's permission, of course.
5. It's surprisingly cheap. Some telephone service providers (AT&T, Vonage, Sprint, etc.) will allow you to choose a toll-free number and add it to your existing phone plan for as little as a few dollars a month and a small per-minute fee for inbound calls. But be careful, not all of them will capture caller ID info.
For those interested in taking it to the next level, some providers add a "virtual PBX" feature that can add an extra layer of professionalism to your business. When a caller dials you, he or she is presented with a menu of options. I use mine as a way for callers to reach my whole team using one number. As an example: Press one for me, press two for my assistant, press three for my transaction coordinator, press four for a list of properties available, press five for a market update, press six for my full contact info and website addresses. From there, callers are transferred to wherever I am--even a cell phone, home phone, or my regular office desk line. Easy to configure and everything!
The company I use (because it's the cheapest and easiest to configure so far that I've found) is GotVMail Communications.They give me a toll-free number, a local number, and an easy-to-configure web interface for less than $50 a month (hmm... might be less than $40 now that I think of it). I own my numbers and they'll follow me for years to come.
I currently have three toll-free numbers with them. One (you'll see it below in my signature block) is a "vanity" number that I selected because it's (hopefully) easier for urban real estate buyers and sellers to remember. One I use for my high-end listings ("Recorded property info available 24 hours a day"), and one as a secondary toll-free I use to test specific marketing.
I'd love to hear what others are doing for their toll-free numbers!
Rob McQuade, ABR, Sacramento REALTOR®
McMartin Realty - Sacramento Real Estate
2031 K St Ste 100
Sacramento, CA 95814-4216
Tel (916) 444-7577 or Toll Free (866) 720-CITY (2489)
Fax (916) 444-7977
On the web at http://www.RobMcQuade.com/
Visit my blog at http://www.CentralCityGuy.com/
You can email me at Rob@RobMcQuade.com